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Is it safe to breastfeed when you are sick?

Topic: Is it safe to breastfeed when you are sick?

Mothers often worry if it is safe to breastfeed while they are sick. The answer, more often than not, is yes. Our bodies work in such a way that we expose others around us to an illness a day before we begin showing symptoms. This means that your baby would have already been exposed to your illness by the time you actually feel sick. The good thing is that since your body is building an immune response, you pass along illness-fighting antibodies to your baby while breastfeeding which helps to protect your little one.


It is advised to consult with your doctor to correctly diagnose your sickness but a standard cold, flu, food poisoning or even a fever is not to be worried over, and is fine to breastfeed with. Your doctor may want to put you on a course of antibiotics in case of bacterial infections, in which case you can ask your doctor to prescribe something that is safe for breastfeeding. Alternatively, you can also pump and store your breastmilk before going on a course of antibiotics if you are not comfortable breastfeeding while sick or switching to formula.


Withholding your breast milk during an illness actually increases the possibility that your baby will get sick and deprives baby of the comfort and superior nutrition of nursing.

Some of the other things you can do while you’re sick is drink a lot of fluids and rest, as it helps in keeping your body hydrated as well maintaining a good milk supply.You can also prevent your baby from getting sick by doing some of the usual things to prevent the spread of illness such as washing hands often, avoid sneezing/coughing around baby, limiting face-to-face contact, etc .

In some cases, you may not nurse frequently enough and don’t get enough fluids to keep the milk supply going. To avoid a decreased milk supply, drink plenty of fluids. Sometimes medications can also cause your milk supply to diminish. You should avoid taking such medicines after consulting your doctor.


Proof reading is done by Dr. Shantala Yashas. Sp. OB Gynecologist, iCare clinics, UAE.